8/15/2013 8:18 P.M. ET
Python visits Rays clubhouse before series finale
By Sam Strong / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings did not dare go near his locker for nearly 20 minutes prior to Thursday's game against the Mariners.
A 20-foot python named Asia -- another of manager Joe Maddon's unconventional clubhouse visitors -- was in his way.
"We needed a little motivation in the clubhouse," Maddon said. "I thought it fit in perfectly with what we're trying to do around here. We needed to loosen things up, and what better way to do that than with a 20-foot python?"
The snake came courtesy of nearby theme park Busch Gardens, which started taking care of the snake when its previous owners were expecting a child.
Some Rays were more adventurous, as Maddon, Fernando Rodney, Joel Peralta, Yunel Escobar and Luke Scott held the snake and posed for a photo.
"That thing is solid, solid muscle, man," Scott said. "We have to play a baseball game in three hours, but it's good to have distractions and variety."
Maddon supports proposed replay, but has questions
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays manager Joe Maddon was glad to hear news come from the quarterly Owners Meetings on Thursday that Major League Baseball plans to expand its use of instant replay.
"Of course I like it," Maddon said. "I like flat-screen TVs with high definition. I like air conditioning in my 1956 Bel Air. I like computers. That group that argues against technology and advancement, I would challenge them to take away all the technology that makes our lives better. To bury your head in the sand and reference 'old school' all the time is a really poor argument. This is the time. It's our time to make the right decision. Live with it, understand it. It makes things better and more accurate. What's wrong with that?"
Under the proposed plan, managers would be allowed one umpire's challenge through the first six innings and two more in innings seven through nine.
Maddon took issue with this, noting that he feels each point in a game is equally important.
"We've lost games in the first inning," Maddon said. "I don't know if there are more mistakes in the latter part, but it's difficult for me to try to tell you what the most significant moment in that game will be. It could be done so quickly with technology today. I don't anticipate this being a lengthy thing, and it's going to be a lot less lengthy than me going out to argue."
Roberts designated to make room for Cobb
ST. PETERSBURG -- Alex Cobb's move from the 60-day disabled list to the 40-man roster to start on Thursday forced a corresponding move. Tampa Bay chose to designate infielder Ryan Roberts for assignment after optioning him three times since mid June.
"Ryan was a professional regarding how he took it and how he talks about us now and in the future," manager Joe Maddon said. "I couldn't be more proud of him. I wish him nothing but the best. I don't use the word 'classy' often, but he was classy and professional."
Outfielder Jason Bourgeois -- whose contract was selected earlier this month -- remained with the team after his first Major League hit came in the form of a walk-off single in Wednesday's 5-4 win. Bourgeois, however, could find himself out of a job when outfielder Desmond Jennings returns from the disabled list (fractured left middle finger).
"All I can do is try my best," Bourgeois said. "These guys are capable of winning a World Series with or without me. I believe in these guys. There's a team camaraderie here that's one of a kind. They're going to be just fine, but I hope to be here."
Scott, McGee bring smiles, gifts to children's hospital
ST. PETERSBURG -- Designated hitter Luke Scott and left-handed reliever Jake McGee paid a visit to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg before the Rays' game against the Mariners on Thursday.
Both players said they could see patients' faces light up as they handed them signed photos and introduced them to team mascot Raymond.
"I've been blessed to be put on this platform to do something I love, and an opportunity to show some hope to someone else is a welcome one," said Scott, who was making his first visit to the hospital.
McGee had gone before, but said each visit is different. He and Scott split up, hitting different floors in order to meet as many kids as possible. Both said it would not be their last trip to All Children's.
"You can see them smiling and getting excited," McGee said. "It makes their day. It's pretty cool. I like doing it. It makes you appreciate a lot. It's pretty eye-opening."
Sam Strong is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.